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Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the planet's atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather is driven by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences between one place and another. These differences can occur due to the Sun's angle at any particular spot, which varies with latitude. The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the largest scale atmospheric circulations: the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell, the polar cell, and the jet stream. Weather systems in the middle latitudes, such as extratropical cyclones, are caused by instabilities of the jet streamflow. Because Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane (called the ecliptic), sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. On Earth's surface, temperatures usually range ±40 °C (−40 °F to 100 °F) annually. Over thousands of years, changes in Earth's orbit can affect the amount and distribution of solar energy received by Earth, thus influencing long-term climate and global climate change.

Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes, as most atmospheric heating is due to contact with the Earth's surface while radiative losses to space are mostly constant. Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Earth's weather system is a chaotic system; as a result, small changes to one part of the system can grow to have large effects on the system as a whole. Human attempts to control the weather have occurred throughout history, and there is evidence that human activities such as agriculture and industry have modified weather patterns

Studying how the weather works on other planets has been helpful in understanding how weather works on Earth. A famous landmark in the Solar System, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, is an Anticyclonic storm known to have existed for at least 300 years. However, the weather is not limited to planetary bodies. A star's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind. (Full article...)

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A blizzard has swept the snow on these trees on The Brocken (Harz, Germany) into weird shapes.

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A jet stream is a fast flowing, relatively narrow air current found at the tropopause, the transition between the troposphere (where temperature decreases with height) and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with height). Jet streams are typically located at 10-15 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. They form near boundaries of adjacent air masses with significant differences in temperature, such as the polar region and the warmer air to the south. The path of the jet typically has a meandering shape, and these meanders known as Rossby waves. Rossby waves propagate westward with respect to the flow in which they are embedded, which translates to a slower eastward migration across the globe than smaller scale short wave troughs. The major jet streams are westerly winds (flowing west to east) in the Northern Hemisphere.

During the summer, low-level easterly jets can form in tropical regions. A southerly low level jet in the Great Plains of North America helps fuel overnight thunderstorm activity, normally in the form of mesoscale convective systems. A similar northerly low-level jet can form across Australia, instigated by cut-off lows which develop across southwest portions of the country.

Meteorologists use the location of the jet stream as an aid in weather forecasting. The main commercial use of the jet stream is during airline travel, as flying long distances along the jet stream can cut hours off a long distance trip. One type of clear-air turbulence is found in the jet stream's vicinity, which can be a hazard to aircraft. One future benefit of the jet stream could be to augment power generation within the next 10 to 20 years, if technological hurdles can be overcome.

General configuration of the main upper-level jet streams.

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Did you know...

...that a hurricane force wind warning is issued by the United States National Weather Service for storms that are not tropical cyclones but are expected to produce hurricane-force winds (65 knots (75 mph; 120 km/h) or higher)?

...that the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting System is a software package for tropical cyclone forecasting developed in 1988 that is still used today by meteorologists in various branches of the US Government?

...that a cryoseism is a sudden ground or glacier movement that can occur due to water freezing or ice cracking after drastic temperature changes?

...that BUFR is a binary data format standardized by the World Meteorological Organization for storing observation data from weather stations and weather satellites?

...that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issues weather forecasts for conditions that can cause avalanches in the mountains of western Washington and northwestern Oregon?

...that a wind chill warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a combination of wind and cold temperatures is expected to cause life-threatening conditions for anyone caught outside?

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This week in weather history...

June 10

2005: A severe flood struck the town of Shalan in the Heilongjiang province of China, killing more than 100 people.

June 11

1979: A tropical depression formed over the Caribbean Sea south of Grand Cayman. The storm produced torrential rainfall over Jamaica, including up to 32 inches (810 mm) in Westmoreland Parish.

June 12

2004: Tropical Storm Chanthu made landfall in central Vietnam, killing 39 people.

June 13

1968: Hurricane Abby dissipated east of Virginia.

June 14

1903: A major flash flood destroyed a large portion of the town of Heppner, Oregon, killing 247 people. This remains the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the state of Oregon.

June 15

1991: Typhoon Yunya struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines, the same day that Mount Pinatubo erupted catastrophically.

June 16

2014: A tornado outbreak began across the Midwestern United States, including simultaneous EF4 tornadoes near Pilger, Nebraska that were broadcast live on national television.

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Portrait of William Ferrel

William Ferrel (January 29, 1817 – September 18, 1891), an American meteorologist, developed theories which explained the mid-latitude atmospheric circulation cell in detail, and it is after him that the Ferrel cell is named. (Full article...)

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WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

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